Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crowdsourcing Kanye & The Semiotics of So Me

When the music video for Kanye West's "Good Life" premiered in September something immediately bothered me.[1] I knew the lyrics sounded like:
'Cause I'm seasoned/Haters give me them salty looks/Law-rees
Although I didn't know what in the world a "law-ree" was, I took the aside in stride, since I'd inferred the main seasoned/salty pun.

Then the video directors Jonas & François decided to have Mr West speak the word "law-ree" in a word balloon, and I learned it was actually "Lawry's." I imagined Googling it was a worth a shot, but I couldn't figure out the connection. Considering it may be some regional Chicago-slang from Ye's youth, I asked my coworkers who went to school in Chicago, and they were at a complete loss. Even my last-resort UrbanDictionary[2] gave me nothing.

Fast forward to last night. Lost Remote had a post linking to the MTV Labs Blog, which I had no idea existed. I poked around a bit, found out MTV had developed a lyrics site, and tested it out by looking up the "official" lyrics to 'Good Life' That site listed "lowry's" as the correct word, so I chalked the in-video spelling up to Jonas & François's Frenchness and set a-Googling.

Google suggested I might mean "Lawry's" as in, the birthplace of Lawry's seasoned salt.


I don't know how I didn't notice that, but I will note that no decent UrbanDictionary explanation came out until October, a few days after Lawry's Wikipedia entry was edited to mention "Good Life." Hopefully we can all learn from this process that:
α) Crowds can be wise, but doesn't mean they're not slow
β) MTV's lyrics site is less helpful than a Google search
Kanye can be pretty corny[3]

[1] Surprisingly, it's not the fact that the video vixen/item girl's name is "Fershgenet Melaku." Personally, I find that no less appealing a name than "Esther Baxter."
[2] If you
need UrbanDictionary to figure out songs, you are a cultural tourist. Frankly, I'm not ready to count myself out of being up on the Louis Vuitton Don yet.
[3] After the 'Graduation' leak dropped, I went around lording over my less-piracy-inclined colleagues by quizzing them on lyrics. My favorite question was, "Tom Breihan thinks the line '
I'm like a fly Malcolm X/Buy any jeans necessary' is corny. What do you think?" What surprised me is the number of people who didn't get the reference, and when I explained it to them, they were inevitably unimpressed. Long story short: even good jokes aren't funny after you explain them.